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AFSA Responds to Nationwide Omega Sprinkler Recall

[DALLAS, TEXAS - OCTOBER 14, 1998] The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Central Sprinkler Company, Lansdale, Pa. have issued a joint nationwide recall of 8.4 million Omega brand fire sprinklers, which represents less than two percent of the total number of sprinkler heads in use (8.4 million out of over 500 million). The vast majority of sprinkler systems are extremely reliable and will provide the expected high degree of life and property safety.

"For months we have strongly encouraged the public and building owners to find out if they have Omega sprinklers installed in their buildings and to contact Central Sprinkler Company if Omegas are installed," comments AFSA President Steve Muncy. He warns, however, against panic.

"CPSC cites 17 cases in which some Omega sprinklers failed to activate. Fortunately, there has been no loss of life in these fires, and we know that there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of successful activations with Omega sprinklers.

"However, because fire sprinklers are so important in protecting the public, we must be confident of their performance. We are pleased that this agreement between CPSC and Central will result in increased confidence in automatic fire sprinklers."

Fire sprinklers have a superior record. They have been installed in buildings for more than 100 years and about 30 million sprinkler heads are now installed each year. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that there have been no instances of multiple fatalities in buildings protected with sprinklers. Fire sprinklers for residential dwellings have been available since 1980. Jurisdictions that require sprinklers in homes report that there have been zero fire deaths in homes protected with sprinklers.

Building and home owners with automatic fire sprinkler systems are encouraged to find out if they have Omegas installed. Those with questions should call the Omega Recall Hotline at 1-800-896-5685 [toll-free number to be activated on Thursday, October 15] to request an information packet on how to identify an Omega sprinkler head. People may also visit Central’s Omega recall website at www.omegarecall.com/, the CPSC’s website at www.cpsc.gov/ and the American Fire Sprinkler Association’s website at www.firesprinkler.org/ for more information and photos of Omega sprinkler heads.

Central is offering consumers free replacement glass bulb sprinklers and reimbursement to help pay for the cost of installing the new sprinklers. To request replacement sprinklers and to receive reimbursement, customers must submit Proof of Claims and Waiver and Release Forms, both found in the Omega information packet, no later than August 1, 1999 to participate fully in the settlement.

AFSA has also responded to several inaccuracies recently reported on the NBC Nightly News program. The report stated, "Government investigators say at least 17 fires have been caused by fire sprinklers that failed." AFSA expressed concern over this inaccurate and misleading statement, since fire sprinklers cannot actually cause a fire, and pointed out their hundreds of successful activations.

Established in 1981, the American Fire Sprinkler Association is a non-profit, international association representing the open shop fire sprinkler contractor. AFSA is dedicated to the educational and professional advancement of the automatic fire sprinkler industry.

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